The US, Australia and India
Two firsts and the greatest?
in The politics of freedom of information
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US: A long struggle by a small group of politicians and journalists over a decade led to numerous abortive attempts to pass legislation in the 1960s. The bill finally became the 1966 FOI Act following a long process of negotiation in the Senate and opposition, though crucially not rejection, from the then President Lyndon Johnson (Reylea 1983: Yu and Davies 2012).

Australia: the Australian FOI policy development, beginning in the 1970s and ending in 1982, was a long series of advances and retreats. The proposed legislation was alternatively weakened during its passage, with crusaders both in government and in the Senate seeking to preserve key features against bureaucratic and political opposition (Snell 2001: Terrill 1998).

India: the traditional view of Indian Right to Information Act is of a remarkable grassroots alliance of dedicated reformers pushed openness legislation from the local level upwards during the 1990s and 2000s (Roberts 2006: Sharma 2013). However the reality is more complex as RTI was the result of a combination of piecemeal reforms in the 1980s, shifts in elite power and support from parts of the bureaucracy and from Sonia Ghandi herself (Singh 2007: Sharma 2013).

The politics of freedom of information

How and why governments pass laws that threaten their power


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